Tuesday, 27 March 2007

And here's another: babies and civil servants...

So the Telegraph is obviously interested in English this week.

First of all you don't need to be too distressed if you're they're/their/there isn't quite up to speed: civil service mandarins were given a guide to accurate writing - and given some of the government websites I think they need it:


Then beware if you're planning to marry someone with a different regional accent:


So, enjoy!

Another little thing.

Ok, so you're going to get this printed out in lessons if you're doing A2, but there's an interesting article in today's Daily Telegraph at:

It's about accents and movement of accents. There's also some interesting sound recordings to listen to to illustrate what they're talking about.

Uptight about Dictionaries?

After a long silence, here's some stuff. The following was sent to an email list I get: I think it's quite interesting. It's also v relevant for the stuff we were discussing in Language Change last week:

I was surprised at the earliness of the first cited use of 'uptight' inthe US; I'd assumed it was a word of the seventies...Though many of thecitations do come from that 'groovy' period. Also interesting that,like 'wicked', it can be used as a term of approbation or theopposite...

uptight, a. SECOND EDITION 1989

colloq. and slang (orig. U.S.). [UP- 3.]

1. a. Of a person: in a state of nervous tension or anxiety;inhibited, worried, 'on edge'; angry, 'worked up' (about something). Quot. 1934 is an isolated early example.

1934 J. M. CAIN Postman always rings Twice xvi. 190 I'm getting up tightnow, and I've been thinking about Cora. Do you think she knows I didn'tdo it? 1966 Sunday Times (Colour Suppl.) 13 Feb. 35/4 Up tight, tense.1968 Mad LXXVII. 30 'Uptight' means, like, a bad scene. It's when you'rehung up, or wigged out, or you can't make it. We all get 'uptight' oncein a while. 1969 C. YOUNG Todd Dossier 38 He looked worried. Reallyworried. As the kids say, he was up-tight. 1973 E. CALDWELL Annette(1974) VI. ii. 137 I'd guess you'd gotten so uptight from being deniedmotherhood that you were ready to leave home. 1975 D. LODGE ChangingPlaces ii. 83 You're feeling all cold and uptight and wishing you hadn'tcome. 1977 M. EDELMAN Political Lang. v. 90 To the uptight policemaneveryone is a potential offender. 1981 P. P. READ Villa Golitsyn II. iv.112, I was afraid you might be a little uptight about that sort ofthing.

b. fig. Characteristically formal in manner or style; correct,strait-laced.

1969 Manch. Guardian Weekly 28 Aug. 18 Who would have thought that anuptight institution like the august Oxford University Press would havedone a thing like this? Here is a..spirited and spiritous piece ofautobiography..served up as a book. 1970 E. M. BRECHER Sex Researchersix. 253 They tended to swing in the same socially corrrect, formal,'up-tight' style they followed in their other activities. 1976Chatelaine (Montreal) Jan. 73/3 In the morning, the apartment lookedcuriously uptight to Meredith.

2. In approbation: that reaches the desired standard; excellent,fine.

1962 Down Beat Aug. 20/2 Jazz Gene Ammons Up Tight! 1966 [seeOUT-OF-SIGHT adj. phr. (n.) 2]. 1969 Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 31 May 11/7Disc jockeys..talk in a kind of sub-English..as in 'All right babysock-it-to-me it's allright uptight yeah.'

3. Short or out of money; 'broke'.

1967 Time 6 Jan. 18/3 'Up tight' can mean anxious, emotionally involvedor broke. 1968 Esquire Apr. 160/3 The expression 'uptight', which meantbeing in financial straits, appeared on the soul scene in the generalvicinity of 1953. Hence uptightness. 1969 FABIAN & BYRNE Groupie vi. 46 The paranoia and savage uptightnesswhich comes from three such guys living on top of each other andattempting to lead very together type lives while being stoned most ofthe time. 1974 A. LASKI Night Music 95 It hadn't made him anylooser..that rigid uptightness was still in him. 1976 New Yorker 8 Mar.57/3 In [The Entertainer]..Archie contrasted the uptightness of theBritish who don't make 'a fuss' with a fat black woman he once heard inAmerica who sang 'her heart out to the whole world'.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

A present from Hannah


Those who jump off a bridge in Paris are in Seine.
A man's home is his castle, in a manor of speaking.
Dijon vu - the same mustard as before.
Practice safe eating - always use condiments.
Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death.
A man needs a mistress just to break the monogamy.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
Dancing cheek-to-cheek is really a form of floor play.
Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
Reading while sunbathing makes you well red.
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.
What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead give away.)
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
In democracy your vote counts. In feudalism your count votes.
She was engaged to a boyfriend with a wooden leg but broke it off.
A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
If you don't pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.
With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.
The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
Local Area Network in Australia : the LAN down under.
Every calendar's days are numbered.
A lot of money is tainted - It taint yours and it taint mine.
A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.
He had a photographic memory that was never developed.
A midget fortune-teller who escapes from prison is a small medium
at large.
Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the
Once you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.
Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead-to-know basis..
Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.
Acupuncture is a jab well done.


Just been reading Susie Dent's The Language Report for last year. It's full of current linguistic trends, words coined during the year, and finishes with the OED's word of the year. Brill!
Waparrazzi - members of the public who take photos of celebrities with their mobile phones
flashpacker - posh, rich backpacker in their 30s

word of the year: bovvered! Oh, what a thing it has come to. 2005's was biosecurity - boring! But check out the following: 1982 - kissogram; 1970 - Big Mac; 1963 - Dalek; 1959 - hairspray; 1947 - bikini; 1938 - tweenage (almost unbelievable!); 1937 - hobbit; 1921 - potato crisps; 1913 - migrant labour; 1906 - muckraking. So many words have been going longer than you'd think.

Anyway, this book is great for Language Change, because it actually also talks about why words get more popular, and also for beginning to think about topics for independent Language Investigations for A2, if you're in Year 12. And I'm going to donate my copy to the library when I've finished with it. Enjoy!

Monday, 12 March 2007

Twenty first century acronyms

Some nice examples of language change in this BBC article - acronyms are created to describe particularly modern cultural phenomenons - and some of them are the same as earlier words. Does that make them more likely to catch on or less, do you reckon?

Anyway, there's also a bit on the end for you to add your own if you like.



Some of these are also relevant for language and technology.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

All books have genders

I've just found an essay by Neil Gaiman on his website called by that very title:


I think it's an interesting point - perhaps for the people doing language and gender and perhaps for those doing literature or even just interested in reading and writing. I'm not sure, however, that I agree with it. Neverwhere, for example, which Gaiman cites as a 'male' book strikes me as having a central character who can be empathised with by both male and female, and who goes on the classic epic journey to discover himself. Also I've given up being surprised by the number of girls in Years 7 and 8 who are obsessed with the 'encouraging-boys-to-read, male-centric' Alex Rider series by Antony Horowitz. Ditto Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series.

So do books have genders? Does author gender or intention count for anything? Does it matter?
YOU decide....

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Engineering - it's what we're all about you know

Having just come home from the Engineering Steering Group meeting after school, and being told that we should be constantly reminding you of all the links to engineering so on the offchance that some visitor to school asks you what engineering has done for you then you know, I feel I can discharge the obligation as far as you lot are concerned by saying:

You never get anywhere in any job without English. You need English to write reports, you need English to read reports, you need English to be able to talk intelligently about why Engineering is important and you need English to get a job in Engineering. The real world runs on English. English is completely about transferrable skills.

And of course, actually I think the important thing about the Engineering status is that it makes a statement about equal opportunities, and I think you girls can conquer the world if you could just forget about the boys down the road for a moment! ...

Monday, 5 March 2007

Nobody does it better...

Well, actually, I've discovered someone who has. So if you're doing a round up on the internet now and again I suggest you check out


It's much more accomplished than mine. But I shall learn.


Language change - grrr

Amusing article from the Daily Telegraph! Unbelievable, I know...


or why you shouldn't complain about change...

Sunday, 4 March 2007


Of interest to all you who are studying language change (take note Year 13) and all those interested in Language and ICT (Year12)


Read, enjoy, comment. :)

Any suggestions for further coinings on the theme, then feel free to email me or post them and I'll put a selection of our new words up. Definitions to be included please.